Behavioral Health Aide
At a Glance
Years in School (after high school graduation):
2 years or less
$17.53-$39.60 (Mean $28.94)*
*Based on Alaska DOL data for Mental Health Counselor
One-page Description (PDF):
The Behavioral Health Aide (BHA) Program is unique to Alaska and the Alaska Tribal Health System (ATHS). The Behavioral Health Aide Program was created to address behavioral health and substance abuse issues, and to promote healthy individuals, families and communities in rural Alaska where there is limited access to behavioral health care.
The purpose of the Behavioral Health Aide Program is two-fold. The program aims to
provide behavioral health services to rural Alaska villages and to provide services
that are culturally appropriate to Alaska Native people. In order to achieve these
goals the ATHS has invested significantly in the development of the BHA model so that
local people employed by Tribal Health Organizations can be trained to provide a full
range of behavioral health services.
The BHA Program is a certification program that is overseen by the Alaska Community Health Aide Program and is available to employees of Indian Health Service and Tribal Health Organizations that have a Community Health Aide Program. BHA certification is a multi-level provider model comprised of BHA levels I, II, III, and Practitioner. Individuals who are certified at the BHA-I and BHA-II levels act as community educators as they learn and share information about substance abuse, suicide prevention, domestic violence, accident prevention, and health education with individuals and communities. Individuals who are certified as BHA-IIIs or Behavioral Health Practitioners provide expanded services for more complex behavioral health needs, including substance use assessments and treatment, crisis stabilization and management, and mentorship of BHAs who are certified at a lower level. BHAs at all levels also become familiar with the various treatment types and local and statewide resources, so they can provide referrals for additional services.
All BHA services are performed under the supervision of a licensed clinician. Because BHAs live and work in remote areas, they communicate regularly with their supervisors by video conferencing, telephone, email, and some in-person visits. BHAs generally work in the village where they live. Some BHAs work as itinerants and may work in a number of villages throughout the year.
If you want to become a Behavioral Health Aide, contact your local Tribal Health Organization to learn about vacancies in your community or region.
For BHA certification, an individual must complete a series of courses specific to the level of certification they are seeking to achieve. Additionally, for each level of certification, an individual must complete a specific number of on-the-job work experience hours, which includes a 100-hour practicum.
BHAs can complete training requirements through enrollment into programs offered by partner organizations, whose curriculum meets the Community Health Aide Program Certification Board requirements. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) hosts an Annual Behavioral Health Aide Forum every year in Anchorage during the fall that offers courses toward BHA certification. Some BHA trainings are organized by the various Tribal Health Organizations. The Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Training (RADACT) provides some of the training requirements for BHAs and meets many requirements for BHA I certification. The University of Alaska Fairbanks Rural Human Services (RHS) academic certificate program provides many of the training requirements for BHA-I and BHA-II certification.
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
Behavioral Health Aide Program
3900 Ambassador Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Contact: Sheri Patraw
Phone: (907) 729-2431
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